The Invicta Dynamos ended their NIHL South Division 1 campaign with a narrow 2-1 home defeat at the hands of the Basingstoke Bison in Gillingham on Sunday night with Louis Colvin on target for the hosts.
The Mos were without Ryan Giles, Joe Allen, Arran Strawson and Harrison Lillis for the clash whilst the Basingstoke Bison were only missing former Mos defenceman Elliot Dewey.
Within the first few minutes of the game the Dynamos attempted to control the play as Luke Thirkettle skated in and took a slapshot from the top of the circles but it flew safely over the net. The Bison tried their luck at the other end but Connor Morris padded a close range shot into the corner. The breakthrough then came soon after – Louis Colvin forcing a turnover at centre ice before skating towards Weller-Evans and firing a wrist shot that flew past the netminder’s shoulder for 1-0 at 08.55.
A slashing penalty on Ryan Morgan gave the Bison a chance to level the score and Adam Harding sent a slapshot goalward from the top of the circles – the puck hitting the post and falling behind Morris for 1-1 at 12.39.
Dynamos continued to test Basingstoke’s backup in response but Weller-Evans was proving himself up to the task including denying Oskars Ancitis at close range. At the other end the Bison put pressure on Morris and thought they had tallied when Hallam Wilson simply had to score at the back post but the netminder threw himself across his crease and managed to save the puck just before it crossed the line. Before the buzzer Brandon Miles then skated up the wing from the faceoff and sent a hard shot towards Weller-Evans who managed to glove the puck so the first period ended with the teams tied at 1-1.
At the beginning of the second period, Ondrej Zosiak was threatening to escape on the breakaway but two Bison defencemen hauled him down resulting in a tripping penalty to Adam Harding. However Basingstoke managed to pin the Dynamos in their end and took several shots on Morris which the Scotsman managed to save. Leone skated up the wing but was met by Michal Klejna who stood firm and the two bounced off of each other. Leone unhappy with Klejna’s hit, landed a huge check against Richard Bordowski who was sent crashing into the boards. The Mos captain sat two minutes for interference for his hit on the import which gave the visitors another powerplay however they were unable to take advantage.
After several minutes of scrappy play in front of the Dynamos net, Miles managed to skate the puck out of the zone and passed to Leone who took a shot on Weller-Evans. Ashley Tait collected the rebound and skated straight down the ice dodging the home players as he went. He was then left alone with Morris but the netminder used his shoulder to send the puck flying clear.
A penalty on Zosiak saw another powerplay for Bison who managed to score their second of the night. Three Bison shots in quick succession undid the home side as Morris blocked the first and was grounded, Andy Munroe managed to step in the way of another but Alex Sampford then drove in a rebound from close right for the 2-1 lead at 36.02.
Shortly after the strike Basingstoke import Michal Klejna attempted to chip away at Ondrej Zosiak but Brandon Miles intervened by shoving the Bison forward to the floor. The pair received two minute penalties for roughing for a spell of 4-on-4 but neither team could tally another in the second period which ended with the visitors leading 2-1.
The final frame saw a few hard hits as Miles and Ralph collided centre ice before Best later planted a sizeable check on Bordowski. Both teams took shots but the two netminders stood strong and protected their goals well.
With less than two minutes left Invicta called for a timeout. Morris initially returned to his net but, as the Dynamos pinned Bison in their end, he sprinted to the bench to give the hosts a sixth skater. The home side forced a few close calls but were unable to put the puck in the Bison net – the away side take the opportunity to call a timeout and calm the nerves with only 15 seconds remaining. Morris remained on the bench and the six Dynamos players tried their utmost to force the puck beyond Weller-Evans but the shot stopper stood firm to preserve his team’s advantage and secure the two points.
So it was a narrow defeat for the Dynamos who put up a fight against the Bison but a shortbench and tired bodies hindered their chances to hit back and force overtime. The visitors dominated the shot count but were forced to battle until the final buzzer to ensure the points returned to Basingstoke.
Invicta will now face Swindon Wildcats in the first round of the play-offs.
Written by Hannah Lawrence.